The Islamist terror group that kidnapped nearly 300 young girls from a Nigerian town in April kidnapped dozens more young girls this weekend just hours after a Nigerian government official said the group had agreed to a ceasefire, American counterterrorism officials have confirmed.
One U.S. official said the mass abduction by Boko Haram was a direct response to the ceasefire announcement, which came the week before incumbent Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan launched his reelection campaign.
Boko Haram took as many as 60 girls and young women from the towns of Waga Mangoro and Garta near the city of Maiduguri on Saturday, according to local residents. One day earlier, Nigeria’s defense chief of staff had said publicly that Boko Haram had agreed to a ceasefire and that 276 girls taken from the town of Chibok in the spring would soon be released. Their abduction had sparked international outrage and the #BringBackOurGirls social media campaign.
Since the Chibok kidnappings, there have been news reports of other similar raids but not on the scale of this weekend's abductions.
The Nigerian government has not issued a statement about the latest abduction, but several U.S. officials confirmed to NBC News that it had taken place. At the time of the ceasefire announcement, U.S officials and counterterrorism experts in both countries expressed skepticism, and said the ceasefire seemed like an attempt to make the Nigerian government look good with an election approaching.
At the time of the Chibok abduction, Boko Haram leader Abubakr Shekau threatened to sell the girls into slavery. Many experts and U.S. officials believe that was their ultimate fate.
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